Monday, December 22, 2014

Poe to DOTC: Stop MRT fare hike

SENATOR Grace Poe urged the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Monday to postpone the "unnecessary and untimely" fare hike of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) effective January 4 next year.

Poe, who led a Senate inquiry on the malfunction of MRT-3, said the fare increase would only bring "insult and injustice" to the commuters.

"We must remember that a mass transport system such as the MRT is an essential government service. The fare increase is an added insult and an injustice to the suffering riding public whose very lives are put on the line everyday," Poe said.

"The sorry state of the MRT brought about to a large extent by government mismanagement and ineptness cannot justify an increase. The government is obligated to maintain the subsidy until the system's services and safety are upgraded," she added.

Based on the new fare metrics released by DOTC, rates for end-to-end trips in MRT-3 will increase to P28 from P15 (from North Avenue to Taft Avenue and vice versa); P30 from P20 in Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 (from Baclaran to Roosevelt and vice versa); and P25 from P15 in LRT-2 (from Recto to Santolan and vice versa).

If there are concerns regarding the implementation of new fare system, Poe said the DOTC should have discussed the matter in the last hearing since three public hearings have already been conducted.

"Considering that they have a date already to implement a new fare system, they should have volunteered it in the last hearing. But they did not. How could they be so insensitive to the millions of commuters and MRT, LRT riders?" she said.

Poe said the agency should have asked for a consultation first from all stakeholders, involving the MRT and LRT riding public.

A group of workers also opposed the fare increase, saying the adjustment would neither mean comfort nor improvement in services.

Partido Manggagawa spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said more than 70 percent of MRT's finances goes to equity rental to MRT Corporation, its original private concessionaire.

He said PM, together with other groups under the labor coalition Nagkaisa, will be planning protests to oppose the scheduled fare hikes.

“If (President) Aquino thinks that the cheerful mood of the Christmas season will dampen the workers’ and people’s anger at this fare hike, then he is mistaken. People hate those who foul up their Christmas season and think that they can get away with it,” said Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog. (Sunnex)- By Ruth Abbey Gita SunStar

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